A chathaoirligh agus a chaired

Is cúis áthais dom a bheith I láthair anseo inniu ag an deireadh seachtaine seo le homós a thabhairt do phobal Ráth Luirc agus go speisialta don Ard-easpag Mannix. Is mar chuid den “Gathering” nó Tóstal ata muid anseo ach freisin mar go bhfuil sé leathchéad bliain ó bhasaigh an tArd-Easpag agus 100 bliain ó d’imigh sé mar easpag go Melbourne.

Ar ndóigh ta ceangal áirithe agam féin leis an mbaile seo mar is ann a fuair mo shean-athair Éamon de Valera cuid da mheánscolaíocht I scoil na mBraithre Criostaí ar an mbaile.

As a Christian brothers boy myself I am always proud that my grandfather attended the Brothers School in this town and I know he was always grateful for the education they gave him here. The big drawback in going to school here was that he had to walk home every evening from here to Knockmore in Bruree.  Maybe if there is a festival here again you could organise a memorial walk from Charleville to Bruree!

Of course Rath Luirc is also the home town of Donncha Ó Dulaing; the doyen of broadcasters and I am delighted that Fáilte Isteach is to be broadcast live from the town this Saturday.

May I congratulate Patrick Mannix (grand-nephew of Archbishop Mannix) and the committee for the magnificent work done in organising this Gathering.

I Googled Rath Luirc/Charleville on the internet and found a number of interesting facts. Charleville has a wide variety of services.  Amongst the websites I found were Primary Schools in Rath Luirc, Butchers in Rath Luirc, a free dating site for Rath Luirc, Dentists, Acupuncture, General Practices, Grinds and Tutors and English Grinds and Tutors.

As a town in the Golden Vale, the town of Charleville was founded in 1661 by Robert Boyle, 1st Earl of Ossory. Of course way before that, the area was under the rule of the Eoghanachta and as the Ó Cuív clan are descended from the Eoghnachta I can claim a second connection to the town.

This weekend is a Gathering and the purpose is to bring people together. I hope all the visitors here have a good time and enjoy a great sense of hospitality and friendship here.

I am delighted that the connection with Australia will be celebrated during the weekend. First our people left as convicts, then we sent clergy and now our young people go there seeking opportunities. Whatever way they landed on the shores of Australia, many have made a home there over the years and there is now an enduring bond between our two countries.  In recent years we have tended to see the downside of all matters. I must confess to being a person who always sees the glass half full and this has got me over the difficult times in my life. We should now celebrate the opportunities our incredible diaspora gives us whether they are the families of people who left our shores many years ago or our present emigrants. We should also see in our own immigrants a chance to create a bond with a whole new set of countries.

There are many growing up in our Country with dual nationality.  We should encourage them to retain links with their countries of origin and their languages and cultures while at the same time encouraging them to become a full part of our society as fully integrated members. Dual cultures and identity should pose no problems but open up opportunities to the world.  Archbishop Mannix is a good template in this regard as he never lost his great sense of Irishness but at the same time he became a major figure in his adopted country of Australia.

At a time when many people are questioning everything to do with our state, including its foundation, I believe the Irish people can be very proud of their achievements in the last hundred years at home and abroad. In looking at our institutions we must avoid change for change sake and ensure that we only dispense with that which is truly worthless. Just because we do some things differently in this country or have different customs and institutions is no reason in itself to change. I am all for progress but only if it is building on our foundations, not if it is destructive and demoralising.

We must also preserve our culture and be true to the ideal of our forbearers who envisaged a state that would be Irish to the core. Simple things often symbolise a deeper attitude and why the new water company cannot be called Uisce Éireann instead of Irish Water baffles me; as Bus Éireann, Bord na Móna, Teagasc, Coillte have served us well as names.  Furthermore, word is out that tradition is to be broken in the naming of our two new naval vessels which have traditionally being named after historical and mythological figure such as Eithne, Orla, Maedhbh, Emer, Aoife, Macha etc.  The new vessels are to be named after 2Oth century writers instead. Some people seem determined to turn our back on our ancient Gaelic heritage.  As the only independent Celtic nation in the world this would be in my view a big mistake.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and enjoy yourselves while learning from learned speakers about our history and culture.